What is the Difference Between an Optometrist and an Ophthalmologist?
At first, the two appear to be very similar, but there are some differences between them that could make a huge impact on the type of treatment options you are offered. When it comes time for your next eye exam make sure you are getting the right care. Here is the difference between an optometrist and an ophthalmologist.
If you’ve ever had a routine eye exam then you have probably met an optometrist. They are the primary eye care professionals that provide all of your essential eye services from tests to monitoring and monitoring and treating ocular health. Optometrists are licensed to practice optometry which involves exams, tests, prescribing lenses and prisms, detecting certain eye conditions, and prescribing medication. They are also your primary vision care specialists, and can handle the majority of your common visits to the eye doctor. Optometrists are required to have at least 4 years of optometry school and 4 years of prior college education. They are experienced, certified, and highly qualified. If you have problems with double vision, the way your eyes work together, have tracking issues, or poor depth perception, be sure to see a developmental optometrist, preferably one that is a certified fellow of the COVD.
An ophthalmologist is an M.D. that specializes in the health of your eyes. The primary difference between ophthalmologists and optometrists is their type of training. Ophthalmologists are licensed to perform surgery. Most have completed at least four years of college and have extensive medical training afterward. They can diagnose and treat many conditions, prescribe glasses, and some are involved in optical research for the cause and cures of many disorders. Some ophthalmologists can also be specialists focusing on more in depth areas such as a particular condition in the eye.
So What’s the Fuss?
One key factor that separates optometrists from ophthalmologists is how they perceive vision correction. Some ophthalmologists believe that the eye should be treated through physical means like surgery. On the other hand, certain specialists, called behavioral optometrists, study how the brain and eyes interact. This practice is called vision therapy. Over the years, this discussion has sparked some controversy around the practice, but VT continues to thrive and help athletes, children and adults with visually related learning disabilities, and trauma/ stroke patients see and visually function better than ever before!
Optometrists, Ophthalmologists, and Vision Therapy
The biggest difference between the two may be their fundamental view of how the brain and eyes work. Optometrists are trained in vision therapy so, naturally, they support its widespread use and growth as a treatment. However, some ophthalmologists may not be exposed to the potential of vision therapy. As surgeons, some ophthalmologists may believe that your eyes and brain are static, meaning conditions like amblyopia or strabismus can only be corrected with surgery. Not all, but some ophthalmologists will suggest surgery before vision therapy. If you have any questions about vision therapy, please call Accent Eye Care at 602-547-3255.